Friday, December 05, 2008

Starting a Transition Town Initiative

One of the things that I have been exploring is what would organizations, communities, and even life be like if we adopted the principles of Open Space Technology? There are four principles that apply to the break out sessions in an OST meeting:
  • it starts when it starts
  • whoever comes are the right people
  • it ends when it ends
  • whatever happened is the only thing that could have (happened)
Imagine how much more relaxed Americans would be if we didn't expect meetings to start on the dot, but emerge from the flow of the day for everyone who showed up? Imagine if we did not feel blame or guilt about who showed up and who didn't? Imagine if we let whatever happened be totally okay? I have found that adopting these principles actually puts me in a different place, a different mode of thinking and feeling. It is a place where I am less judgmental, less anxious, more at ease. I don't always do it, but when I do, I like it.

It is also a place of letting go. When I first started this journey, I knew that I wanted to be a part of a community that was actively working towards relocalizing. But back then (was it only three and a half years ago?), not many in Atlanta had heard about peak oil. Even among that tiny community, I couldn't find anybody who was interested in joining the Post Carbon Institute's Relocalization Network. I was scared, I was frustrated, I felt powerless, and alone. Eventually I had to let go.

But now I am "getting it"... it starts when it starts. For whatever reasons, it was not the right time, and the right people weren't yet available. Now three of us have found each other. We had our first "Transition Town" meeting today. I am realizing that a small part of me was "holding space" for this to happen someday, which is what had me notice the opportunity as it came up.

Three is enough to start. It is the first iteration of community. It is the very center of the spiral, that will circle out to encompass many more. And our first task is to bring in three more burning souls. In order to start a Transition Town Initiative, we need to have 5-7 people who will commit to working together on this. It is too big a job for any less than that. And this is a good size for a small group, as everyone can have a direct relationship, or at least direct communication, with everyone else.

So we have given ourselves a month to do that. A month to study the Transition Town model, to talk to the folks that we know that might be open, willing, maybe even excited about volunteering for kind of thing. I am not very connected to my immediate community, so this will be an opportunity for me to follow up on some of my initial contacts and try to track down the people who might be interested in this. "Turn over rocks," as DH says.

So now, the applicable principle is "whoever comes are the right people." And this means creating a clear and compelling invitation, and putting it out there, so the right people can find us. Yoo hoo! Where are you???